36 - Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in a small farmhouse in Stonewall, Texas.  The family moved from the house in 1913 and after much deterioration, the house was torn down.  A smaller house was built on the site using many of the original materials; after acquisition by the National Park Service, the birthplace was restored to its original appearance.  It is now part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park.  I visited in 1977 and 2015:


The photo below, from my visit in 2015, is with my sister Marta and brother-in-law Jim:


The 1977 photo below, from the rear of the house, is with my mother and a friend of the family who lived in the area:



In 1913, the Johnson family moved to Johnson City, Texas, a town that had been named for a family cousin.  This remained Johnson's home until he married in 1934.  It is now part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park.  I visited in 1977 and 2015:





After graduating in 1924, Johnson bought a car with some friends and took off for San Bernardino, California.  He worked in a cousin's law office, as well as other odd jobs, such as a grape picker, an auto mechanic, and an elevator operator in the Pratt Building, a building which no longer stands.  After a year, he hitchhiked his way back to his home in Texas.


In 1927, Johnson enrolled in South West Texas State Teacher's College (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas.  He lived in several boarding houses during his time there:  SE Gates House, Evans House, Widow Pirtle's Boarding House, Miller House, and Mrs. Mattie Hopper House.  Only one of these buildings remain, and it now serves as the university's Alumni House.  I visited the site in 2015:



During the summers of 1928 and 1929, Johnson taught at a school in Cotulla, Texas.  While in Cotulla, he boarded at the house of Sarah Tinsley in the western part of the town.  I am unsure if this building still exists.

He graduated in 1930 and went to Pearsall, Texas, where he taught for only a month before being offered a teaching position in Houston.  For the next year, he roomed with his Uncle George, who was also a Houston teacher, in his home on Hawthorne Street.  I am unsure of the exact location of this house or if it still exists.

By 1931, politics had become the focus of Johnson's life and in November of that year, he obtained a job as a congressional aide.  He stayed briefly at the Nueces Hotel in Corpus Christi before moving on to Washington DC.  During his time in DC, he lived in basement rooms of the Dodge Hotel.  In 1934, while in Texas for a family visit, he met his future wife; they married after a brief three month courtship.  Johnson returned with his new bride to Washington, DC, and moved into an upstairs room in the Dodge Hotel.  Both of these hotels have been demolished.


In December 1934, the new couple rented a one-bedroom apartment at the Woburn at 1910 Kalorama Road in Washington DC.  I visited in 2015:



Johnson came back to Texas in 1935 when he accepted a job with the Texas Division of the National Youth Administration.  The Johnsons moved into a home at 2808 San Pedro Street in Austin.  I visited this site in 2015:

This home is privately owned and not open to the public.


In 1937, Johnson won a special election for a seat in the United States House of Representatives and returned to Washington, DC.  Austin remained his official residence for the next fourteen years.  Two of those residences from the 1930s and 1940s, at 4 Happy Hollow Lane and 3119 Tom Green Street, no longer exist.  The Johnsons' final Austin home was at 1901 Dillman Street, which is now available as a vacation rental.  I visited in 2015:



After winning the special election to Congress in 1937, the Johnsons subleased a furnished apartment at the Kennedy-Warren on Connecticut Avenue.  


In 1938, the Johnsons rented a furnished apartment at the Chatham Courts on Columbia Road.  This photo is from my visit in 2015:



The Johnsons returned to the Woburn for 1939 and then back to the Kennedy-Warren for 1940.  In 1941, they rented an apartment at the Woodley Park Towers on Devonshire Place.


In November 1942, the Johnsons purchased a house in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Washington DC.  Johnson lived here at 4921 30th Place NW until he became United States Vice President.


In 1951, Johnson purchased a Texas ranch from his widowed aunt.  The LBJ Ranch was his official residence during his presidency, and served as his "Texas White House."  The ranch is now part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park.  I visited in 1977:


Johnson's widow Lady Bird still lived in the house at the time of our visit.  A tram drove us around the grounds, but the sign was as close as we could get on foot - we took the photo below from the tram:


The tram stopped at the stable, where we were able to see Johnson's horse.  While we have photos of others petting him, this was the first time I had ever seen a horse this closely and I was a little frightened.  This is a close as I got:


Apparently I was a little less frightened by his saddle...


Lady Bird Johnson passed away in 2007.  The main house at the LBJ Ranch has been restored to its appearance when the president was still living there and is now open to the public.  I returned for a tour in 2015:


 

Johnson became vice president in 1961 and the Johnsons purchased The Elms, a residence in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Washington DC.  Johnson was living here at 4040 52nd Street NW when he ascended to the presidency upon the assassination of President Kennedy.


On the evening of November 22, 1963, just hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One shortly before it departed Dallas.  The airplane is now on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  I visited in 2015:




On January 22, 1973, Johnson placed a call to the Secret Service compound on his ranch to alert them that he was experiencing chest pains.  When they arrived at his bedroom, they found him unconscious, with the telephone receiver still in his hand.  The photo below is outside the bedroom (photos are not allowed inside the home):


Johnson was taken by private plane to Brooke General Hospital (now San Antonio Military Medical Center) where he was pronounced dead on arrival. I visited the medical center in 2015:


Lyndon Johnson is buried on the grounds of the LBJ Ranch; the photo below is from our 1977 trip:


This photo is from my return trip in 2015 with my nephew Brian:



The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is located adjacent to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.  The only photo I have from my 1977 visit is from inside the museum, with this Model T that was a gift to LBJ from Henry Ford:


Incidentally, the Model T is now on display at the LBJ Ranch; the photo below is from my 2015 trip:


I returned to the Library with John in 2008:


And then returned with my nephew Brian in 2015:



While President, Johnson regularly went to Washington DC's Columbia Island to relax.  After his death, his widow chose this spot for his memorial.  I visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac with my nephew Brian in 2015:




Texas State University has honored its most accomplished alumnus with a statue in the quad in front of Flowers Hall.  I visited in 2015:



The University of Texas at Austin, home to the LBJ Library, founded the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in the president's honor.  I visited in 2015:



NASA opened a space center in Houston in 1963, and re-dedicated it as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center after the former president's death in 1973.  I have not visited this site.


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2 comments:

  1. Hi. Very interesting. One more. The Johnsons moved from Forest Hills to Spring Valley in DC around the time he became Vice President. The house was called The Elms. Johnson continued to live there while Mrs Kennedy made arrangements to move after JFK’S assassination

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  2. Steve, I am a researcher into Lyndon Johnson. Very interesting! could you contact me at 512-306-1510 (my land line) or Morrow321 (at) Aol.com? I have some questions for you.

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